Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The Fourth Estate has become a joke. Accuracy means nothing to journalists. It is 580 miles from Brownsville to the VA hospital in SA, not 500, not all vets get gas reimbursement, only certain qualifying vets based on the nature of their service connected disability, and if you are going to plant a phony story about a bogus meeting at least make sure the Starbucks you claim to have gone to for coffee is still open. Even a mediocre fiction writer should know to make his fiction more authentic you check out the locations your fiction allegedly takes place to insure they still exist. (It has gotten so petty and first grader like manipulation it’s actually sad- but fun)

That is journalism American style. It gets a lot (which by the way is two words - even if you insist on spelling it as one word) better on Friday. I suspect Friday will be like a psychotic wind blowing through the LRGV. My point is, accuracy and credibility mean nothing to journalists. I remember about a year ago a CNN reporter going on and on about how a former soldier was going to be tried in the civil federal courts for his crimes while in the military. Only one problem with the story - no such court exists. Federal courts are courts of general jurisdiction, meaning they hear both civil and criminal cases. CNN cannot even hire competent reporters to report on the courts.

And while I am at it - no matter what you hear on CAN or read in the paper, when the Supreme Court denies Certiorari in a case, which means they are refusing to hear the case, it does not mean they are upholding the lower court’s ruling, it only means they are not agreeing to hear the case. The following day, on the same issue they just rejected the Court might actually issue a ruling which effectively overrules the holding in the case they refused to hear just the day before. Do they teach anything in journalism school other than arrogance and the pleasure of remaining ignorant?

Why am I all over the Fourth Estate? The concept of Freedom of Speech in part only succeeds if the press acts as the role model for society. There are two components to this: [1] the investigative force against corruption and crime in the private and government sectors, and [2] getting the story right so that innocent people do not have their names tarnished by the incompetence of the reporter and editor.

I am going to address the latter first - out of order. The Herald has a rule against personal attacks while blogging on their stories. There are two reasons for this. One - liability for a defamation suit - two personal attacks diminish the credibility of the Herald. The Herald, whose lawyers earned their law licenses by eating mega boxes of Cracker Jacks fail to understand the liability which comes from not enforcing their own rules, and the defamation which follow as a consequence of not following their own rules.

I am no supporter of Roy De Los Santos, but it was outrageous that he had to go on line and post a comment in the Herald that his campaign manager is not a drug abuser. The fact the Herald put De Los Santos in the position of having to deny these bogus and defamatory statements against his campaign manager tells me that the Herald is so desperate for a readership that its new standard for newsworthy is anything that titillates and sells to the worst elements in Brownsville.

You cannot be a journalist at the Herald and take yourself seriously at the same time. When you write for the Herald or Freedom Communications, you have to admit you have reached rock bottom.

It is well established in the realm of constitutional law that you have a right to your reputation and the right to redress when your reputation is injured. The Texas Constitution best states the law as to Freedom of Speech and accountability for that speech. "Every person shall be at liberty to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that privilege . . . ." Tex. Const. art. I, §8. Freedom of speech has never been the right to say whatever you want when you damn well pleased without accountability. If you defame someone’s character, you will be held accountable. What the law and courts cannot do, is bar you in advance from defaming someone’s character.

For reasons I will never understand the United States Supreme Court has made it more difficult for public officials to sue the press when it comes to defamation. For me the Supreme Court undermined the credibility of the Fourth Estate because it basically said, we expect less from you. What makes this worse is when then Herald decides it is going to use the guise of blogging to allow people to accuse one another of being drug addicts. For me this was the final straw - the Herald is simply without credibility.

Finally, and to the first point - credibility - investigative journalism is dead at the Herald. If the corrupt politician does not show up at the Herald’s office with his confession in writing, you will never read it in the Herald. Reading a story in the Herald is like watching a horror film when the blonde goes looking for the psycho-murderer. You find yourself yelling at the journalist demanding why he is not asking obvious questions.

This is the way the last meeting between Pat Ahumada and the Herald reporter should have gone. When Ahumada claimed he receives checks for travel reimbursement the first question should have been, "have you ever submitted a request for reimbursement for any where near $26,000.00? Second, do you have direct deposit with the city for reimbursement or do you request checks? Third question, do you always deposit personal funds into your business account? Fourth, will you walk with me to Pete Gonzales’ office and authorize him at this time to release all of your requests for travel reimbursement since becoming mayor? Fifth, why did you find it necessary to tell Mr. Brown to wait at your home while you went to the bank alone? You get my drift.

And please, I do not want to hear "I know the reporters at the Herald and they are so nice, you just want to hug and kiss them."¿Y Que? Being nice does not equate to competency. I am not talking about being nice. I am talking about being competent.

I am talking about the Fourth Estate losing its credibility and along with that credibility our freedoms when there is no one left to report on corrupt government and businesses.
Okay people chill, if the reporters at the Herald are going to remain silent about the demise of the Herald and how bloggers can call good people drug abusers with impunity, then it is time they take a tongue lashing. I have said nothing remotely as heinous as calling an innocent man a drug abuser.

In the end, this about the decision by a bunch of arrogant punk journalists to compromise our democracy by abandoning the role as the force of investigation against corruption in the business and government sectors.

Had journalists not abandon their role in our democracy in favor of press parties and hobnobbing with the business community and politicos, the economy would not be in the shambles it is today. If we continue to remain silent to a press indifference to our personal and economic freedoms, we are in effect surrendering to oppression.

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